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Sketches of Virginia
Chapter XIX. - Messrs Alexander and Rice Associated in College


The connection of Mr. Archibald Alexander with the College in Prince Edward County, was not desired by himself, or hastily formed. The knowledge of the circumstances leading to that event is from the Records of the Trustees of the College, November 1st, 1792. “The Board having failed in their attempt to get the Rev. Mr. Graham to take charge of the College as President, have thought proper to secure to the Rev. Drury Lacy the office of Vice President for the term of four years from the present time. It is also the intention of the Board to secure to Mr. Lacy the use of the house and lands that he now occupies, for the above-mentioned term.” On the 12th of the same month the Board made another entry: — “The Rev. Drury Lacy, who has at present the charge of the College, with the office of Vice President, attended the Board, and desired that the Board would think of some suitable person, who should be associated with him in the charge of the College with equal authority, to take an equal share of the labor, and have an equal share of the emoluments. The Board having thought the proposal such an one as they ought to accede to, and Mr. Archibald Alexander being proposed as a proper person — ordered, that Samuel W. Venable and Joseph Venable be a committee to write to Mr. Alexander, and in behalf of the Board to propose to him to accept the charge of the College, in conjunction with Mr. Lacy, to have, as has been proposed, equal authority, and to bear an equal share of the labor, and to receive an equal share of all the emoluments. Ordered, that the same committee appointed to write to Mr. Alexander, be appointed to write to the different congregations about now to be associated for supporting a minister, to inform them of this resolution of the Board, and to propose to them to join their interest with us, and to endeavor to induce Mr. Alexander to undertake the charge of the College, with Mr. Lacy, on the proposed plan, and to preach to the congregations as one of the ministers proposed to be employed in the plan of association mentioned above.” April 9th, 1793. — “A letter from Mr. Archibald Alexander being read to the Board, in which he stated the objections to his accepting the invitation of this Board, that was given him some time ago, to take part in the management of this College, it is agreed that the Board will consider it at their next meeting, and that they will take no resolution on it at present.” At the next meeting, the prospect of Mr. Alexander’s accepting being in no respect more favorable, Mr. Lacy was requested to consult the two former Presidents, on his trip to Philadelphia, as Commissioner to the Assembly.

The time for which Mr. Lacy was engaged being about to expire, the Board, December 22d, 1795, ordered — “That Paul Carrington, Sen., Esq., F. Watkins, S. W. Venable and A. B. Venable be a committee to make inquiry for some suitable person to take charge of the College as tutor, when the term for which Mr. Lacy is engaged has expired; and also to make inquiries for a suitable person who will be disposed to undertake the office of President; and report the success of their inquiries to this Board, from time to time.” In the previous April Mr. Alexander had been chosen member of the Board of Trustees.

In the summer of 1796 propositions were made to Rev. John D. Blair, of Richmond, to become the President, but without success.

In the month of August, 1796, the attention of the Board was once more turned to Mr. Alexander. Mr. Lacy was about removing to his farm, Mount Ararat, a few miles from the College, and the institution was on the point of being left without instruction. On the 13th the records say — “ The Board will engage to him 50 per annum from the funds of the College, and that the tuition, until it shall amount, with the sum of 50, to 180, shall be divided between him and one assistant; and when the tuition shall amount to more than this, that then the trustees will appropriate the overplus as to them shall seem best.” Besides this salary, Mr. Alexander was to have the use of the dwelling-house provided for the President. On the 1st day of the succeeding September, Mr. Alexander’s reply was read—“In which he expresses a wish to decline giving his final answer till November: the Board, on considering the same, have agreed to await his answer till that time.” An order was passed the same day to take the proper steps to obtain a teacher for the approaching winter session. In November the Board met at the Court House, on the 21st. Mr. Alexander met with them as trustee, and gave for answer to their appointment — “That he would accept their invitation, provided the Board would be satisfied that he should defer taking the actual charge of the College until the month of April next. The Board determined to accept of his proposal; but they wish and expect, that if he can find it convenient, he will come at an earlier period.” Rev. Matthew Lyle was chosen trustee at this meeting.

At a meeting of the Board, December 19th, 1796, “Samuel W. Venable, from the committee appointed to employ a teacher, reported— that he and Mr. Francis Watkins, part of that committee, had contracted, on the part of the Board, with Mr. John Rice, to act as a teacher in College, till the last of April next; for which they have engaged that he shall receive twenty-five pounds. The Board approved of this arrangement, and ordered it to be entered on their minutes.” As soon as practicable after his appointment, Mr. Rice began his labors, teaching the pupils assembled at the College. The winter was passed usefully and happily by him, ambitious to make the best preparation for the President, whom he occasionally saw and heard preach, and began to love and to hold conference with about their future course of teaching.

May Blst, 1797* at the College. Present— Col. Thomas Scott, Major James Morton, Charles Allen, Charles Scott, Jacob Morton, Francis Watkins, Samuel W. Venable, Joseph Yenable, Richard N. Venable, and Dr. Robert L. Smith and the Rev. A. Alexander, the President, who this day appeared and entered on his office. On motion by Mr. Alexander, Major James Morton is appointed in future to receive the tuition, room-rent, and deposit from such students as shall wish to enter College, and grant them receipts for the same, which they shall present to the officers of College when they enter. Mr. S. W. Venable, from the committee, reported that he had agreed with Mr. John H. Rice, for the next term, and that he had agreed, on the behalf of the Board, to pay him twenty-five pounds for the term.”

Here are two young men brought, in the Providence of God, to become acquainted, and act together upon the arena of labor, and struggle, and usefulness; and to form a friendship to be perpetuated through life, unharmed by those changes incident to mortals, loving each other more strongly and more purely to the last. They met, the one in his twentieth year, prepared to perform the duties of teacher, and the other in the beginning of his twenty-sixth year, to assume the responsibilities of a president of a college, where in fact there was no college. There was a small but pleasant wooden dwelling for the president; a moderate sized brick building for college purposes, recitations, and lodging the students; a wooden building to serve as a college hall, the place for assembling the students for prayer, and the neighborhood for public worship; a small library; a meagre apparatus; and an amount of funds to yield an inconsiderable income. But of college classes there were none; and of students few. Under the first and second presidents the college was crowded with students: would it be a gain?

Though not symmetrical in its arrangements, the usefulness of the college was almost unbounded for a series of years in a country of exceeding loveliness, and among a population of great moral worth. The second president saw the beginning of its decline. The revival of religion, of which he had been a great and honored instrument, called him away from college duties, and complaints came up, perhaps not well founded, that he neglected the college. Upon this came also complaints, found in the end to be unfounded, that the college \v as sectarian. And fears were expressed also lest, somehow, politics had or would get into college. The region of country occupied by Davies and Todd and Waddell, north of the James, had not been bound as firmly to the college as it might have been. Smith’s strong resolutions in Presbytery had a severity not soon forgotten. Under all these influences the college was drooping, when J. B. Smith left the presidency. The vice-president, Lacy, on who n the college rested for a time, struggled manfully with great difficulties. He loved to preach, and his calls for preaching were numerous, and

to distant places. The trustees could not offer a salary to sustain a president and a professor. Weary with over labor, and oppressed with feeble health, he retired. Graham, though invited by the trustees, and the congregations which were expected to aid in supporting the president, would not take the responsibilities and the labors. Mr. Lacy had been contriving from the time of Mr. Alexander’s first visit, to get him engaged in the college ; and he rejoiced when at last, as he removed from the hill, he found Mr. Alexander preparing to take the responsible office.

The board acted wisely in committing the college to two young men. It was a position for the energy and enterprise and vivacity of young men. And the providence of God, most kind and wonderful, led them to employ those whose worth and influence and usefulness cannot be estimated. The elder came from Rockbridge, tho younger from Bedford, counties divided by the Blue Ridge, and in all their religious history intimately blended. Upon James Mitchel’s and James Turner’s altar the sacred fire often blazed forth; and then they ran from Rockbridge to carry a coal to the altars in the valley. Mr. Rice had excited no high expectations; of Mr. Alexander his friends anticipated much. Both had taught in private families, and both were untried in the management of a classical school or college. With the trustees the experiment was hopeful; with the public, a trial by which they might gain; with the young men, a labor in which Alexander had much to lose and more to gain, and Rice nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The years these young men passed at Hampden Sidney were years of vast improvement. The college gained in numbers and in reputation; the trustees gained confidence; the public gained in their educated sons; and the church gained gems, the value of which she could not know, and does not now, after more than half a century, fully estimate. In the spring of ’97 the college classes all commenced anew. The talents of the young men for instruction, discipline, arrangement of classes, and the course of college studies were fully exercised. The college began, went on enlarging, unfolding, improving, advancing. The salaries were small, the labors great, and the trials many. If the students were few, the salary of the teachers was of course small; if numerous, still it was limited to a very moderate amount. But their own mental improvement was incalculable. When they left the college, as both did in about nine years, they were worthy of the positions they occupied, and were prepared for any exertions the church might demand. From preparing boys for college studies, and arranging the upper classes, and educating youth for the various departments of life, both went to arrange theological seminaries, and prepare ministers of the gospel of Christ.

When preparing to remove to Hampden Sidney, Mr. Alexander obtained from Presbytery a dissolution of his pastoral relation to Cub Creek. The connexion with Briery Congregation he still retained. The arrangement made for preaching for Messrs. Lacy, Alexander and Lyle was, Mr. Lacy alternated at college and Cumberland Church, about ten miles distant, Mr. Lyle at Buffalo and Briery, Mr. Alexander at Briery, on alternate Sabbaths with Mr. Lyle, and at college, or elsewhere, at discretion. For a series of years, the history of the internal affairs of Hampden Sidney was like that of every incipient college. Boys came in all stages of education, were formed, as 'speedily as convenient, into college classes, and carried on, as far as practicable, before they left the institution, some but a little way, and some to the degree of A. B.; the larger portion leaving college with an imperfect education. First the institution appears a grammar school, then an incipient college, and then a college in full operation, with regular classes, a library and apparatus, and a full list of professors and tutors.

At the time of opening the college by Messrs. Alexander and Rice, Hanover Presbytery embraced in its boundaries all Virginia east of the Blue Ridge and south of the Rappahannock. The ministers were, James Waddell, D.D., without charge in Louisa; William Irwin, without charge in Albemarle; Archibald M’Robert, Old Concord and Little Concord, Campbell County; Messrs. James Mitchel and James Turner, co-pastors, Peaks in Bedford; J. D. Blair, Hanover; Drury Lacy, Prince Edward; Archibald Alexander, Hampden Sidney College; Matthew Lyle, Prince Edward; one licentiate, Samuel Ramsey; one candidate, John Todd, son of John Todd, co-laborer with Davies. The numerical strength of the different congregations was not reported.

In obedience to the direction of the Synod of Virginia, in Winchester, October, 1791, respecting the education of youth for the ministry, the Presbytery of Hanover, at a subsequent meeting, present Messrs. Mitchel, Turner, Irvin, Mahon and Lacy, with Elders John Hughes, Andrew Wallace, Andrew Baker and Jonas Erwin, after receiving back from the commissions of Synod Cary Allen and William Calhoon, and from the Presbytery of Lexington A. Alexander, resolved “to raise a fund for the education of pious youth” The resolution lay inoperative. In October, 1794, at the Cove, Mr. Alexander was requested to prepare a proper subscription paper for raising the fund. In October, 1795, at Briery, Presbytery determined that the fund raised should be under the . direction of Presbytery, and not under the Synod, as had been proposed. In the fall of 1796, it appeared that some progress had been made in raising the fund. In the spring of 1797, as “something considerable had been done,” Messrs. Alexander and Lyle were appointed a committee to draft rules for the management of the fund.

The plan was finally settled at Pisgah, in Bedford County, Friday, October 26th, 1797: present, M’Robert, Mitchel, Lacy, Turner, Alexander and Lyle; Elders, Benjamin Rice, John Leftwitch and William Baldwin. “The committee appointed to prepare a plan for the regulation of the charitable fund for the education of poor and pious young men, informed the Presbytery that it had Occurred to them, some other important objects might be embraced by the plan, besides the education of poor youth, which they now laid before the Presbytery for their advice; whereupon the Presbytery continued the committee, and directed them to include any other objects in the plan which they judged proper, and to report.’’ On the next day, Saturday, 21st, “ the subject of the charitable fund was taken under consideration ; and, after being discussed a considerable time, it was resolved, 1st, that the members immediately proceed to exert themselves to raise money; 2d, that the outlines of a plan, comprehending the general object to which the money is to be appropriated, be prepared, to be annexed to the subscriptions, for the information of the public; 3d, that Mr. Alexander be directed to draft the outlines of such a plan, and to report in the afternoon.”

In the afternoon, Mr. Alexander produced the following outlines of a plan for appropriating the proceeds of the charitable fund, which, being read, were approved, viz: 1st., “The objects which are intended to be embraced by this fund, are the education of poor and pious youth, the support of missionaries, and the distribution of useful books among the poor. 2d. The moneys which may be collected shall be deposited in a fund, and this principal shall not be diminished, but the interest arising from it shall be appropriated to the aforesaid purposes. 3d. The profits of the fund shall be used for the education of such youth as this Presbytery shall judge might be useful in the church, and who are in such circumstances as prevent their obtaining an education without assistance, until the annual profits shall be more than sufficient to support more than two young men. 4th. Whenever this shall be the case, the surplus shall go to the support of missionaries to be employed to preach the gospel in destitute places. But if the interest of the fund should ever be more than sufficient to educate two young men and support two missionaries, the balance shall be used to purchase useful books to be distributed amongst the poor.

“If, however, it should happen at any time that no young man of the above-mentioned description can be found, the annual profits shall be applied to the support of missionaries; and in case no missionaries can be obtained, the moneys designed for their support shall be appropriated to purchase useful books. The Presbytery may, at any future period, if they think proper, include other objects in the management of the fund, than those already specified, provided there be more money than is needed for the aforesaid purposes. The Presbytery of Hanover shall have the whole direction and management of this fund, and shall deposit the principal in such hands as will promise the greatest security and increase. All donations hereafter given shall be added to the principal. A register shall be kept by the Presbytery, in which the names of all the contributors shall be entered, and the respective donations specified.” In the spring of 1T98 one hundred and fifty-nine dollars were reported as collected. Collections were proposed to relieve the distresses of the citizens of Philadelphia suffering from the yellow fever. These collections, as stated in the fall of 1799, were 781. 7s. 1d. and the charitable fund had increased to 851. 1s. 6d. This is the beginning of the fund that now sustains the Union Theological Seminary in Prince Edward, and maybe considered the first step towards that institution.

The peculiar and urgent duties of College induced Mr. Alexander to ask of Presbytery, November 16th, 1798, at Cumberland, “to be released from the pastoral charge of Briery congregation.” No objection being made, the request was granted. With the firmest attachment to Mr. Alexander as a preacher, the congregation appreciated his worth as a president. His labors were unremitting. He resided in the president’s house, but commonly took his meals in the steward’s hall. It was a time of great mental effort, intense study and bodily exertion. He was resolved to be prepared to give instruction in all the departments devolving upon him. The advantages of the close regular study, and the habits of exact acquisition in himself and recitation in his classes, were manifest in after life, when called to preside over the Seminary at Princeton. He was familiar with the Latin and Greek classics, became fond of the exact sciences, and pursued the study of mental aud moral philosophy on the plan of his beloved instructor, Graham.

The number of students increasing, the Board authorized the employment of assistants. In the summer of ’98 the President employed Mr. James Aiken, and for his services for the session gave him 15. Mr. Aiken was continued the next session, and by order of the Board was paid 36.

In the fall of 1798, Mr. Rice gave notice that he should resign his office, at the close of the winter session. “Mr. Alexander is requested to endeavor to procure a suitable person to take Mr. Rice’s place, at College, in case he shall persist in his determination to resign his office.” The President obtained the services of Mr. Conrad Speece in the spring of 1799. Mr. Rice was disconnected with the College some time in the fall of that year, and made preparations to attend the medical lectures in Philadelphia. While pursuing medical studies he devoted a part of each day to the instruction of a class of young pupils,, principally girls, of the family at Willington, and their connections.

Mr. Rice soon found himself in a position, in relation to one of the young misses at Montrose, to make him most earnestly desire to hold Mrs. Morton in the near relation of mother. This fact he felt bound to reveal to the young lady herself before he went to Philadelphia, and also to be entirely candid with the mother, who was to him so true a friend. Mrs. Morton heard his avowal with the kindness and prudence of a loving mother and true friend ; the daughter with girlish mirth, chastened by h,er great respect for his moral worth. Probably no lover ever left the scene of his enchantment with more mutual kindness than Mr. Rice left Willington; or a more resolute intention of abandoning a pursuit he considered hopeless. He went to reside at Montrose, in Powhatan, with the family of Josiah Smith, the brother of Mrs. Morton, whose children made part of his class of pupils. With the family at Montrose he commenced a lasting friendship. The piety of Mr. and Mrs. Smith was of the earnest, lovely cast of Mrs. Morton’s, which had charmed and improved him. Could he have hoped that the desire of his heart would be finally gratified, his cup of happiness would have run over. He pursued his medical studies under the direction of an eminent physician, Samuel Wilson, and in the fall of 1800 was . ready to attend the medical lectures in Philadelphia. But instead of prosecuting his design, he yielded to the persuasions of some friends and returned to the College, and engaged in teaching with his friend Alexander, and his young companion, Speece.

In the month of January Mr. Alexander had given notice that he intended resigning his office at the close of the summer session. The confinement of College life with all its excitements, had lost its charms for a young man thirsting for excellence and usefulness in the ministry, and with a heart to love and be loved. Probably the three young friends had a mutual influence over each other’s course. Rice came back to the College, and Alexander remained the president.

In the spring of 1800, the Trustees, “ ordered that the spring vacation be extended to the 15th, instead of the first of June next, in order that there may be time to repair the College.” It is probable that the exploring expedition Dr. Alexander made to Ohio, of which his family have lively traditions, was made this spring and summer. In April of this year, Mr. Speece was immersed by the Rev. James Saunders. While preparing for the ministry under the care of Lexington Presbytery he, in the winter of ’97, ’98, while giving the doctrines of the Confession of Faith a thorough examination, became doubtful of the propriety of infant baptism. He communicated his doubts in April ’98. His licensure was delayed while he might still further consider the subject. When he went to the College, in the spring of ’99, he was unsatisfied on the questions respecting the mode and subjects of baptism. He found Mr. Alexander and Mr. Lyle, making diligent enquiries on that same subject. The two young ministers became greatly perplexed; and by mutual agreement for a time discontinued infant baptism, determining not to resume the practice till their minds were settled on its validity. Like Mr. Speece they communicated their doubts to their Presbytery. But of that fact the Presbytery made no record. The young men were left to their investigations without reproach or suspicion. The immersion of Mr. Speece was unexpected at the time. Mr. Alexander continued his researches and Came to the conclusion that the baptism of infants was of Scripture authority. Mr. Speece was greatly impressed by the fact that Mr. Alexander had arrived at a conclusion contrary to his own. “ My friend the Rev. Archibald Alexander, having obtained in the autumn of this year (1800), the removal of his objections against infant baptism, soon convinced me of the necessity of reconsidering the subject for myself.” In consequence he says, “April 9th 1801, having read before the Presbytery of Hanover a discourse on baptism, by way of trial, they licensed me to preach the gospel.” About this same time Mr. Alexander carried into effect the resignation he. proffered more than a year preceding.

For about two years, baptism was a standing subject of thought and investigation by Messrs. Alexander, Lyle and Speece. Speece committed and re-committed himself. Alexander and Lyle acknowledged their difficulties, and after wading through doubts and apprehensions and fears, were firmly settled jn their faith. Mr. Rice, does not appear to have been particularly troubled on this subject of enquiry. But that he derived great advantage from the discussion, is evident from the production of his pen in after years, the biblical argument having been stated in a masterly manner in a large pamphlet. After the baptism of Mr. Speece, the expectation of the public was on tiptoe about the other two young men. The Baptist community were confident of their acquisition; and the Presbyterian public in anxiety for their young ministers. By rumor, days were appointed for assembling the multitude to witness the immersion. But this anxiety of the public neither hastened or hindered the process of investigation in the mind of Alexander. Speece gave the substance of his investigations in a paper he read to the Presbytery. He and Mr. Alexander, some years after, published numerous papers on the different heads of the subject of Baptism, in the Virginia Religious Magazine, printed in Lexington. Some of the sentences appearing there, from the pen of Mr. Alexander, are similar to those appearing in hig autobiography, published by his son.

That the mind of Mr. Alexander should be exercised on the subject of baptism, is not at all surprising. His first deep religious exercises commenced by the means of a baptist lady of sincere piety. She impressed upon his mind the great truths of her own belief, and above all, the reality of her Christian experience. That she should endeavor to impress upon him her views of baptism was both natural and Christian, especially as she manifested nothing of a proselyting spirit. And then the great revival in Charlotte and Prince Edward, whose power he had felt, began under the preaching of a baptist minister by the name of Williams. Under those circumstances he could but investigate the subject of baptism and for him to doubt was to be unhappy till the doubt was removed. Speece was fond of such kind of investigation, and very naturally would take hold of the subject, and having taken hold would go through to a conclusion; in his early years much more hastily than after his mind had become more matured. At, the College, Alexander could wait longer for light on a dark subject than Speece could. Rice could wait longer than either, but it was perhaps because his- mind moved slower. Lyle was not inclined to be doubting or misgiving, on any subject he had once received as true. But a doubt of its truth once, obtaining entrance, he could never rest till the exact state of the case was satisfactorily discovered.

At the time Mr. Alexander left the College, in 1801, the students were numerous; the classes had assumed some regular form, and a few students had completed their course and received the degree of A.B. In September 1799, Robert Dobbins and Benjamin Montgomery received their degree; in April 1800, William Venable and George Brown received theirs; in Aprill 1801, Ebenezer Cummins and Wm. Barr received theirs. In the February of this year is a record — “Mr. Alexander permitted William Matthews, an orphan, to come to College without paying tuition. On a question whether his tuition shall be charged to Mr. Alexander in his account with the College, it is determined it shall not.” The committee appointed to find a successor of Mr. Alexander as president, reported, April 23, 1801, they had not succeeded. “It is therefore determined that the charge of the College be committed for the next sessions to Mr. Speece and Mr. Rice, the present tutors in College.” The committee were directed to procure an assistant teacher. “Mr. Speece and Mr. Rice,” at the.same time, “the present tutors in College have given notice, that they will resign their offices at the next session.” The committee were directed to engage suitable persons to teach in College in the place of these gentlemen. Mr. Speece left the College in September, and never returned. Mr. Rice was engaged for another series of years with Mr. Alexander.

Of the religious exercises of Mr. Rice, we learn something from a letter to Mrs. Morton, July 27th, 1800 — “I every day feel with emphatic force, the truth of that saying — of yourselves ye can do nothing. Surely, no wretch ever felt as entirely helpless as I am. I feel that my attempts are all fruitless, that my labors are all in vain, that my righteousness is as filthy rags, that it is, indeed, nothing, that my wisdom is all folly, my strength is all bfeakness, and my best services all sin and impiety. With propriety I may exclaim, O, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? These feelings naturally cast down my soul; but now and then I feel cheered by some gracious promise. Some portion of the balm of Gilead is poured into my wounded heart, some comfort from the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. But soon my comforts vanish. Sin hangs heavy like, a clog upon my soul, chills my love, and almost extinguishes my zeal. Do you, my friend, feel these alternations of light and darkness, of pleasure and pain, of rapture and grief? or, do you go on from one degree of strength to another? Do you feel faith lively, hope strong, evidences bright and unclouded? If so, you have abundant reason to be thankful. If not, God grant you may. I can wish no better wish to my best of friends, than ihat she may daily feel comfortable assurances of divine favor, and that her soul may constantly rejoice in God, the God of her salvation.”

With these views, and the example of Lacy, Alexander, and Lyle before him, and the declared intention of his companion Speece to preach the gospel, Mr. Rice began to consider the importance of the ministry of the gospel. There were present to him the example of his uncle David, the apostle of Kentucky; of Mitchel and Turner 17 in his native county; and the remembrance of his mother’s desires, expectations, and prayers. He compared the healing art with the gospel of Christ in its power to bless mankind, and as a pursuit for life. The current of his feelings, and the decision of judgment were for the gospel ministry.

Messrs. Rice and Speece went on with the instruction in College, f the summer session of 1801, while Mr. Alexander was abroad on an excursion through New England. The estimation in which Mr. Speece held his friend Rice at this time, is thus expressed in a letter to Mr. Maxwell — “My friend did not possess, in those days, the habit of close persevering study, which he afterwards acquired. His reading was a good deal desultory. I remember feeling surprise, now and then, on his owning to me, concerning some book of prime merit, that he never had read 5it through. Still his quick mind gathered and digested knowledge with great rapidity. I considered him an able teacher, both in language and science. There was in him a vein of dry playful humor, which made his conversation very pleasant to all companies which he frequented. Meanwhile his conduct was such in all respects as to adorn his Christian profession. The satirical talent, which you know he possessed in no ordinary degree, always levelled its shafts against vice and folly.

His friend Alexander thus writes — “When I came to reside at that place (the College), I found him there; and from this time our intercourse was constant and intimate as long as I remained in the State; and our friendship then contracted continued to be uninterrupted to the day of his death. It is probable, therefore, that no other person has had better opportunities of knowing his characteristic features, than myself; and yet I find it difficult to convey to others a correct view of the subject. 1st, One of the most obvious traits of mental character at this period, was independence; by which I mean a fixed purpose to form his own opinions; and to exercise on all proper occasions, entire freedom in the expression of them. He seems very early to have determined not to permit his mind to be enslaved to any human authority, but on all subjects within his reach, to think for himself. He possessed, in an eminent degree, that moral courage or firmness of mind, which leaves a man at full liberty to examine and judge, in all matters connected with human duty or happiness. But though firm and independent, he was far from being precipitate either in forming or expressing his opinions. He knew how to exercise that species of self-denial, so difficult to most young men, of suspending his judgment on any subject, until he should have the opportunity of contemplating it in all its relations. He was ‘ swift to hear and slow to speak.’ No one I believe ever heard him give a crude or hasty answer to any question which might be proposed. Careful deliberation uniformly preceded the utterance of his opinions. This unyielding independence of mind, and slow and cautious method of speaking, undoubtedly rendered his conversation at first less interesting, than that of many other persons; and his habit of honestly expressing the convictions of his own mind, prevented him from seeking to please his company by accommodating himself to their tastes and opinions. Indeed, to be perfectly candid, there was in his manners, at this period, less of the graceful and conciliatory character than was desirable. He appeared, in fact, to be too indifferent to the opinions of others; and with exception of a small circle of intimate friends, manifested no disposition to cultivate the acquaintance, or seek the favor of men. This was undoubtedly a fault; but it was one which had a near affinity to a sterling virtue; and what is better, it was one which in after life he entirely corrected.

“2d. Another thing by which he was characterized, when I first knew him, and which had much influence on his future eminence, was his insatiable thirst for knowledge. His avidity for reading was indeed excessive. When he had got hold of a new book, or an old one which contained matter interesting to him, scarcely any thing could moderate his ardor, or recall him from his favorite pursuit. When I came to reside at Hampden Sidney, he had been there only a few months, and I was astonished to learn how extensively he had ranged over the books which belonged to the College library. And, as far as I can recollect this thirst for knowledge was indulged at this time, without any regard to system; and often it appeared to me without any definite object. It was an appetite of the very strongest kind, and led to the indiscriminate perusal of books of almost every sort. Now, although this insatiable thirst for knowledge, and unconquerable avidity for books, would in many minds, have produced very small, if any good effect, and no doubt was in some respects injurious to him; yet possessing, as he did, a mind of uncommon vigor, and a judgment remarkably sound and discriminating, that accumulations of ideas and facts, which to most men, would have been a useless, unwieldy mass, was by him so digested and incorporated with his own thoughts, that it had, I doubt not, a mighty influence in elevating his mind to that commanding eminence, to which it attained in his maturer years.

“3d. A third thing which at this early period was characteristic of him, and which had much influence on his capacity of being useful to his fellow-creatures in after life, was a remarkable fondness for his pen. He was, when I first knew him, in the habit of writing every day. He read and highly relished the best productions of the British Essayists; and in his composition, he would imitate the style and manner of the authors whom he chiefly admired. Addison appeared to be his favorite ; but his own turn of mind led him to adopt a style more sarcastic and satirical than that which is found in most of the papers of the Spectator or Guardian. These early productions of his pen were never intended for the press, and were never otherwise published than by being spoken occasionally by the students on the college stage. I may add, that his first essays in composition, though vigorous, and exuberant in matter, needed much pruning and correction.

“4th. There was yet one other trait in his mental character, which struck me as very remarkable in one of his order of intellect. He never discovered a disposition to engage in discussions of a speculative or metaphysical kind. I cannot now recollect that, on any occasion, he engaged with earnestness in controversies of this sort; and this was the more remarkable because the persons with whom he was daily conversant, were much occupied with them. To such discussions, however, he could listen with attention; and would i often show, by a short and pithy remark, that though he had no taste for these speculative and abstruse controversies, he fully understood them. Yet I am of opinion that he took less interest in { metaphysical disquisitions, and read less on these points, than in any other department of philosophy. On some accounts this was a disadvantage to him, as it rendered him less acute in minute discrimination, than he otherwise might have been; but on the other hand, it is probable, that this very circumstance had some influence in preparing him to seize the great and prominent points of a subject with a larger grasp,' while the minor points were disregarded as unworthy of attention.

“5th. As a teacher he cherished a laudable ambition to know thoroughly and minutely all the branches of learning in which he professed to give instruction. His classical knowledge was accurate and highly respectable; and the ease with which he pursued mathematical reasoning gave evidence that he might have become a proficient in that department of science. At the same time, he was apt to teach, and succeeded well in training up his pupils in all their studies.


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